Last Bottle of Sauvignon Blanc

I know that many of you who are reading this article are seasoned veterans of making wine . . . but my wife and I are not. In fact, we weren’t even fans of wine in the past when I think about it. But here I sit, sad to be drinking my last bottle of homemade Sauvignon Blanc. Let me explain.

I had recently retired after 46 years of full-time work. One day my wife and I were out shopping for a new mobile phone and noticed there was a wine supply store at the end of the shopping center. Out of the the blue my wife blurted out, “How about making some wine?” I had never, ever thought about it before. But since I am retired now, I have plenty of time to try it . . . why not? We purchased a 6-gallon (23-L) winemaking starter kit and our first wine kit, a Sauvignon Blanc. The owner said we would need some sanitizing chemicals also. Okay, check!

When we got home, I looked at all the equipment and thought what did we get into? We didn’t know anything about wine or winemaking and we knew of no one who was actively making wine to help us. So you can imagine I was quite happy to find that the kit came with instructions. We read and reread the instructions. The next morning we read the instructions again and jumped in with all hands.

It was interesting picking up the wine concentrate in its bag and opening it. Thank goodness there were two of us. I held the bag tightly and my wife had to pry off the cap. All I was told was “Don’t spill it!”

“I am trying not to spill it. Thanks, dear.” Well we got it open and into the bucket. And in case you’re wondering, no I didn’t spill a drop. My wife patted me on the back . . . minor victories.

We took our first specific gravity reading. We passed with flying colors and finally added the yeast. Interesting, found out it’s not bread yeast. Now came the new and clearly advanced winemaking terminology — we needed to add an airlock and bung. Ok found out what they were. Our basement in the summer months runs at about 65–70 °F (18–21 °C). Perfect! Exactly what the kit was calling for. We ventured down every day to see the airlock bubbling away. I read up about what was happening. Friends would come over to watch what was happening, explaining to them that the yeast was enjoying eating the sugar — I was an expert now. I even threw some wine terminology at them.

Fourteen days later and more cleaning and more new fangled terminology like the “carboy” and “wine thief.” A wine thief? Well, found out what that was. Time to transfer the wine . . . here I think I am going to pour from bucket to carboy. But there was a look my wife gave me and I knew I was not going to do that. “That’s what the hose is for.” Good thing she was there.

Now we needed to leave it to stand for 2 weeks. I gotta say, I got bored. So I read up about wine and bought more supplies for more batches of wine. Then came more fun — transferring wine from the fermenter to the bottles. My wife started filling the wine bottle and as the bottles were filled I installed the cork with a manual hand corker. I got behind in my duty, my wife was filling them faster than I could cork them. I had to yell “uncle,” and she waited until I caught up to her. We finally finished and my arms were tired, but heck, we just made WINE!

This was three years ago. We enjoyed it so much we’ve made several other wines since then. We’re sad to see our first wine is gone, but the experience is not forgotten.